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Understanding Dementia: MIND Diet Shows Promise in Slowing Cognitive Decline

By Mary Bates, MS, CT, Certified Dementia Practitioner

Eating a healthy diet that limits the consumption of red meat, butter, and margarine, cheese, fried foods, and pastries and sweets is beneficial at any age, but recent research indicates that limiting those foods and following the MIND diet may delay age-related cognitive decline and the onset of dementia.

The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), with their well-known health benefits, like lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. MIND is short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

While research is ongoing to determine whether eating patterns can make a difference in brain health, the MIND diet has been shown in several studies to slow cognitive decline in older adults, says the National Institute on Aging.

The MIND diet encourages eating more green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, and olive oil. Wine is allowed but ideally just one glass per day.

Aim for six or more servings of green leafy vegetables each week, including salads, kale, spinach, and cooked greens, along with one serving of another vegetable each day.

Nuts and berries are also star players on the MIND diet. Try to eat two servings of berries, like strawberries and blueberries, and five servings of nuts of any kind each week.

Use olive oil for cooking, eat fish at least once per week, and include three servings daily of whole grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa and whole-wheat pasta.

Eat chicken or turkey twice a week, and four meals with any kind of beans, including lentils and soybeans.

The MIND diet isn’t a miracle cure for preventing cognitive decline and dementia, but eating more foods from the recommended list and limiting red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, fried food, pastries, and sweets may keep you healthier and your brain working at its optimum level.

Mary Bates, MS, CT, is a Certified Dementia Practitioner. She is the Assisted Living and Memory Care Director of Summit by Morrison, a senior living community offering independent living, assisted living, memory care, and respite care.

Through this column, Mary will share the experience, knowledge, and resources she and her team rely on, anticipating that it will be useful for anyone living with, caring for, or coming into contact with a person with dementia. Send your questions to Understanding Dementia at Summit, 56 Summit Drive, Whitefield, NH 03598 or email Mary will share information and answer as many questions as possible through this column. Learn more about Summit by Morrison at

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